School on Saturdays Gives Students a Boost

WHEELING – School on Saturday may not be very appealing to most high school students, but for the students of Wheeling Park High School, it may ensure their success for their four years of high school and beyond.

Wheeling Park High School recently received a grant of $30,120 from the West Virginia Department of Education to fund “Saturday Scholars,” a recently implemented program that offers specialized tutoring on Saturdays for at-risk students as well as students aiming for a better score on standardized tests.

“It’s part of our goal for students to graduate on time,” Principal Amy Minch said. “If they fall behind and get frustrated, they sometimes give up. We offer basic tutoring so that students continue to earn credits throughout high school and stay on track for graduation.”

Minch said that students in Saturday Scholars will sit down with qualified teachers one-on-one or in a group setting to work on areas in which they are struggling. She said each student has an individualized plan that addresses the areas or classes in which they have trouble.

Wheeling Park High School’s goal is a 100 percent student graduation rate, and officials believe the Saturday Scholars program could help meet that goal. A report given to the West Virginia Department of Education from the school cites reasons students dropped out, including a dislike of the school experience and academic difficulty.

“It’s a three-year grant, so we will truly see the effects and benefits over the three-year period,” Minch said.

Students who are not necessarily struggling in their classes also benefit from the Saturday program. Many students taking standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT and WorkKeys will come in on Saturdays for test preparation, Minch said.

“It helps prepare them for college entrance,” Minch said. “If the student has already taken the test, we take the results and make a plan for each student and design a specific prep program for them to work on Saturdays. If the weakest area was math and social studies, then on Saturday they would key in on the weak areas to provide additional instruction and test preparation so their scores will be improved.”

Saturday Scholars was implemented at the end of the last school year, and Minch said student response has been very positive. Minch said she has had students asking her when Saturdays sessions are going to start. The first session this year is scheduled for Nov. 10.

“No one is assigned to Saturday Scholars, students are willing to come,” Minch said. “The kids that come want to be there.”